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Cat constipation: It doesn't just stink, it's dangerous!
How does this happen?
It is a relatively common occurrence for elderly, long-haired or stressed cats, or those animals not maintaining adequate hydration. Often, owners of cats that become constipated have implemented changes in their home, schedule or, very frequently, have traveled some distance, especially by car.
Constipation is characterized by the animal not passing stool, quite frankly, and sometimes an attempt is made to no avail. For the elderly cat, lack of hydration is often a cause. Most people feed dry food to their animals, which is fine but after some time the animals ability to maintain a healthy digestive tract is decreased. For the long haired cat, stool can become entangled with the hair from the tail, and cause a physical blockage known as pseudocoprostasis. As long as the hair impedes the movement of the waste, it will remain stuck at the rectum and continue to build. Stressed cats will often just avoid using a little box altogether. Long car trips, plane rides and moving from one house to another can affect the cat's ability to relax enough and seek out the box when needed.
What are the dangers?
For a cat that won't eliminate his solid waste, a serious medical condition can occur.
Some cats will develop further problems such as megacolon. This problem occurs when the feces builds up in the colon and the colon loses it's ability to move the waste from the animal. The problem of constipation just became a medical emergency, and anesthesia is typically required to manually extract the feces from the animal.
How do I help my cat?
You want to be sure and stop the constipation from becoming a more serious medical condition. The easiest way to treat constipation is by increasing both the fiber and water content of your cat's diet.
The most immediate change you can make is feeding your cat a canned food diet. By replacing the dry kibble with canned food, you are increasing the water intake. Also, flavoring his drinking water with tuna juice or a slurry of canned food will encourage more water consumption.
The next best option for your cat is to feed him canned pumpkin mixed into the wet food, or as I prefer, canned meat baby food. The pumpkin is high in water and fiber, and will encourage your cat's digestive track to eliminate the waste in an efficient manner. Be sure to use regular pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie puree.
Feed this mixture for a day or two and prepare to clean a littered box! Your cat will be comfortable and happier.
Of course, if you cat still hasn't used the box, take him to your veterinarian. Water and fiber won't help a serious medical condition!